List of best aircraft in India

With 139,576 active personnel, 140,000 reserve personnel, and over 1,850 aircraft, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is the fourth largest air force in the world. Let us have a look at some of the best aircraft in India.
List of best aircraft in India
List of best aircraft in India

With 139,576 active personnel, 140,000 reserve personnel, and over 1,850 aircraft, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is the fourth largest air force in the world after the US, China and Russia. IAF has a highly technical and specialised fighting force that safeguards Indian aerospace against enemy invasions and manages aerial warfare during the conflict. Let us have a look at some of the best aircraft in India. 

Best Aircraft in India

1- MiG-21

Designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union, MiG-21 is a fighter and interceptor aircraft. The aircraft took its first flight on 16 June 1955 and entered into service in 1959. 

Inducted in India in 1963, MiG-21 is the first supersonic fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. India got full technology transfer and rights to license-build the aircraft in India. In 1985, Russia stopped the production of the aircraft while India continued operating its upgraded variants.

MiG-21 is the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history and the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War. The aircraft will be phased out of service by 2025. 


Role: Fighter and interceptor aircraft

Designed by: Mikoyan-Gurevich

First flight: 16 June 1955

Inducted in: 1959

Country of Origin: Soviet Union

2- Dassault Rafale

Dassault Rafale is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by Dassault Aviation. In July 1986, Dassault built a technology demonstrator as part of an eight-year flight-test programme, paving the way for the go-ahead of the project. 

It is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.  

After Sukhoi jets, Dassault Rafale is India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years. India has inked a deal with France to procure 36 fighter jets. Of these, only 10 are left which will be delivered by the end of 2021.


Role: Multirole fighter aircraft

Designed and Manufactured by: Dassault Aviation

First flight: Rafale A demo: 4 July 1986, Rafale C: 19 May 1991

Inducted: 18 May 2001

Country of Origin: France

3- Sukhoi Su-30MKI

Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a  twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russia's Sukhoi Sukhoi Aviation Corporation and built under licence by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is a variant of the Sukhoi Su-30 and is a heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter. 

In 2000, India inked a deal with Russia to manufacture 140 Su-30 fighter jets. The first Russian-made Su-30MKI variant was inducted into the IAF in 2002, while the first Su-30MKI assembled in India entered service with the IAF in 2004. As of January of 2020, IAF has around 260 Su-30MKIs in inventory.  


Role: Multirole fighter, air superiority fighter

Designed by: Sukhoi

Manufactured by: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

First flight: Su-30МК: 1 July 1997, Su-30MKI: 2000

Inducted: 27 September 2002

Country of Origin: Russia, India

4-  Dassault Mirage-2000

Dassault Mirage 2000 is a multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation to replace Mirage III for the French Air Force. More than 600 aircraft have been built and the aircraft serves nine nations. India placed an order of 36 single single-seater and four twin-seater Mirage 2000 jets in 1982. 

A contract was inked with France in 2011 to upgrade the existing Mirage 2000 jets to Mirage 2000-5 Mk to keep them in service until 2030. The aircraft has played a critical role in major operations such as the Kargil war and the 2019 Balakot airstrikes. 


Role: Multirole fighter 

Designed and manufactured by: Dassault Aviation

First flight: 10 March 1978

Inducted: July 1984

Country of Origin: France

5- MiG-29 

Designed in the Soviet Union and developed by the Mikoyan design bureau,  Mikoyan MiG-29 is a  fighter aircraft that was developed to counter US fighters. It entered into the service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1982. The Aircraft is equipped with air-to-surface missiles and various other munitions.

In 2020, India inked a deal with Russia to procure 21 MiG-29 fighter jets. Presently, IAF has three squadrons of the MiG-29s which are regularly upgraded and are reliable for various air defence roles.


Role: Air superiority fighter and multirole fighter

Manufactured by: Mikoyan

First flight: 6 October 1977

Inducted: July 1982

Country of Origin: Soviet Union

About Indian Air Force (IAF)

1- Established on 8 October 1932, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had a strength of 25 soldiers. Of these, 19 were combat pilots. Since then, the IAF has undergone extreme expansion and modernization, both in terms of manpower and technology. 

2- The IAF flag was adopted in 1951. The blue colour flag houses India’s National Flag and a roundel of the Tricolor.

3- The motto of the Indian Air Force is taken from Bhagavad Gita-- Nabha Sparsham Deeptham, meaning ‘Touch the sky with Glory’.  

4- President Ram Nath Kovind is the Commander-in-Chief of one of the top 10 strongest air forces in the world. General Bipin Rawat is the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari is the Chief of the Air Staff, and  Air Marshal Sandeep Singh is the Vice Chief of the Air Staff. 

5- Arjan Singh is the only Individual who was honoured with the post of Marshal of the Indian Air Force in 2002, which is a five-star rank, for his distinguished service in commanding the IAF during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

These were some of the best aircraft that have been inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF). Some of these have played a crucial role during conflicts while others have protected India's skies from enemy invasions.

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